Few football commentators create as much debate as John Motson. Either you love him or you hate him.
Sentimentally, I’m a supporter of Motty but it’s for the same reasons that I still feel warm and fuzzy when I think about Subbuteo, the original Football Manager computer game, Shoot and Match annual yearbooks and my football programme collection. If Motson hadn’t been such a huge part of my childhood when I fell in love with the game, I wouldn’t care so much about Motson’s career heading down the tube.
Editor’s Note: Of course, it helps that the John Motson I remember is frozen in time in 1984 when I moved from the UK to the States. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve heard his commentaries in the past 24 years as we usually hear the commentator for the international audience instead of Motson’s unmistakable voice. Luckily for me, I haven’t had a chance to hear his career fade away, as many of you Brits have.
Sadly (or gladly for you Motty haters), it appears that John Motson’s 37-year career at the BBC is coming to an end. That’s because the BBC has refused to allow him to work for Setanta Sports and the Beeb at the same time. And beginning next season, the BBC will have lost almost all of the live football coverage available.
Motson faces a choice of either staying with the BBC — where he would commentate on matches for BBC Radio Five Live as well as be involved in the Match of the Day (MOTD) highlights show — or leaving the channel. As writer Henry Winter in The Daily Telegraph recently wrote, “Only when Motson and his sheepskin coat appear on satellite will people wake up to the reality of the BBC’s surrender in the battle for football.”
Right now, it looks like Motson faces a choice between Five Live/MOTD or Setanta Sports. Either way, it looks like his mark on the game is nearing its end.
What would you do if you were him?